Wellcome Library’s Collections – An Introduction


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Wellcome Library’s Collections – An Introduction

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  • Henry Wellcome, born 1853, influence of wild west, arrowhead
  • Successful businessman: nature of drugs, importance of branding and celebrity endorsements to success of company, infl of tropical medicine
  • Interest in history filters through into business. Used as decoration for BW&Co publications (BMA Guides and BW&Co Diaries)
  • ‘Collect the everyday’: shows how man changed over time in relation to his attitudes to health and well-being. ‘Everyday’ life but also ‘everyday’ aspects of ‘extraordinary’ lives; Scale of collection: vast, kept accumulating, 1 million objects by his death Methods and approach: secrecy (“Epworth & Co”); collectors based abroad
  • Collectors: C J S Thompson (1862-1943) was Henry Wellcome's key collector. Whilst Wellcome ploughed his profits from Burroughs Wellcome & Co into collecting, it was Thompson who not only assembled the purchased artefacts into what would become the Wellcome Historical Medical Museum but also co-ordinated the work of Wellcome's collecting agents across the world. Paira Mall: Mall's medical training, mastery of several oriental languages and knowledge of libraries, combined with his social connections (he had been chief medical adviser to the Maharajah of Kapurthala), made him the ideal man for the job. Employed by Wellcome from 1910 to 1926, Mall spent from ten years from 1911 travelling all over the subcontinent, collecting a vast number of artefacts and manuscripts. Mall was also instructed to arrange the copying of rare manuscripts preserved in private libraries. As a result, copies held in the Wellcome Library are often in a better state than the originals in India. Mall's letters and reports on his travels are a fascinating resource. In them, he describes delicate negotiations and the dangers he faced in his hunt for manuscripts - such as crossing rope bridges over ravines in Tibet.
  • Captain Peter Johnston-Saint - An ex-Indian Army officer with impeccable social connections (the Queen of Spain was a childhood friend) and excellent linguistic skills, the dashing figure of Captain Peter Johnston-Saint (1886-1974) seems more at home in the pages of a John Buchan novel than in the world of inter-war book collecting. Joining the staff of the Wellcome Historical Medical Museum in 1920, Johnston-Saint rose to a position of Wellcome's 'Foreign Secretary' (in reality, a full-time roving ambassador for the Museum), and made highly successful trips through Europe, the Near East and India, all recorded in his colourful travel diaries. Having friends in the right places was imperative: in 1933 Johnston commissioned one Hirmiz Petrus - a cousin of a clerk to King Faisal of Iraq - to aid in the purchase of manuscripts in Iran and Iraq. Johnston-Saint's skills as a collector were recognised not only by his employer but by foreign governments: his programme for collecting memorabilia on French medical men directly led to his appointment (along with Wellcome) to the Legion d'honneur for their interest in France's cultural heritage. letters (just as Mall and Thompson) from overseas tours.
  • Hold records on the Museum; reasoning behind accessions more interesting than the accessions themselves…
  • Hall of Primitive Medicine – Wellcome seeing History of Medicine fitting into 19thC conceptions of progress
  • Hall of Statuary – look familiar?
  • CMAC – V important; cf rise of Social History (of Medicine) from 1960s on; similar growth of history of medicine as being much more than just ‘Doctors on Doctors’; Academic Unit (as it became) formed one part of the Wellcome Institute for the History of Medicine (disbanded in 1999 when the Unit was transferred, administratively, to University College, London). The Institute title, adopted in 1968, also embraced the Library
  • UK Web Archive; medical and health related website, charities, professional bodies AND individuals
  • Autograph Letters – akin to the (everyday?) fragments of ‘Great Men’ collected by Wellcome…
  • Mention fugitive sheets; ephemera items – not built to last? This one has head of Vesalius…
  • Explains Wellcome’s ethos? Not the collection of a wealthy man collecting Old Masters…
  • Snapshots – fragments, again?; Mixture of advertising (DO THIS!) to public information (DON’T DO THIS!); Up-t-o-date (Swine flu); Prostitute cards story…?
  • Medical and Scientific Literature – how practises have developed, fallen from favour (evolution, phrenology…); Origin of Species , Gray’s Anatomy BUT ALSO Eat Yourself Thin
  • Geography (South Asia – India, China, Thailand etc); Format (1000 palm leaf manuscript; ivory, bone, bamboo); Subject (spread wider than well-being; mythology,religion); Shown - Illustration which identifies and names the acupuncture points in some of the fourteen bodily tracts on the body. This illustration is derived from Chinese medical illustrations and depicts figures whose dress, facial hair and hairstyles identify them as Chinese; Japanese reading marks have been added to the text to ease understanding. Early 18th century
  • Lady Ayscough – 17thC Manuscript
  • Two works based on one item. Traditional history as opposed to first person account (History and Medical Humanities); Reinterpretation of our collections
  • Wellcome Library’s Collections – An Introduction

    1. 1. Wellcome Library’s Collections – An introduction Theories and Methods: Literature, Science and Medicine 25 th March 2010 Ross MacFarlane Research Officer [email_address]
    2. 2. Aims: <ul><li>Introduction to Sir Henry Wellcome </li></ul><ul><li>Origins of his collections </li></ul><ul><li>Overview of Library’s collections </li></ul><ul><li>Uniting themes </li></ul>
    3. 3. Sir Henry S. Wellcome 1853 -1936
    4. 6. HSW as collector <ul><li>‘ Collect the everyday’ </li></ul><ul><li>Scale of collection </li></ul><ul><li>Methods and approach </li></ul><ul><li>Collectors </li></ul>
    5. 12. Origins of Library <ul><li>1949: Library formally opens to the public </li></ul><ul><li>1968: Wellcome Institute inaugurated </li></ul><ul><li>1979: Contemporary Medical Archive Centre </li></ul><ul><li>Early 1980s: Museum collections passed on to Science Museum </li></ul><ul><li>1980s-90s: Growth of collections </li></ul><ul><li>2007: Wellcome Library re-opens as part of </li></ul><ul><li>Wellcome Collection </li></ul>
    6. 13. Opening of Wellcome Historical Medical Library <ul><li>“ The library contains special collections on, </li></ul><ul><li>for example, alchemy, occultism, veterinary </li></ul><ul><li>medicine, and folklore, mediaeval texts, and </li></ul><ul><li>original manuscripts from such figures as </li></ul><ul><li>Hunter, Pasteur, Lister, and Florence </li></ul><ul><li>Nightingale. There is also a large collection </li></ul><ul><li>of modern works” </li></ul><ul><li>( BMJ , 10 December 1949) </li></ul>
    7. 14. History of Medicine Collection <ul><li>Over 96,000 volumes, 1850 onwards </li></ul><ul><li>Anatomy to Zoology </li></ul><ul><li>Biographical works </li></ul><ul><li>Literature </li></ul><ul><li>Journals (print and online) </li></ul><ul><li>Reference works </li></ul><ul><li>UK Web Archive </li></ul><ul><li>Always expanding </li></ul>
    8. 15. Archives and Manuscripts <ul><li>Classical period to Present day </li></ul><ul><li>Such themes as: Psychiatry, physiology, study of sex </li></ul><ul><li>Almost every aspect of European science represented </li></ul><ul><li>Manuscripts: lecture notes, casebooks, diaries </li></ul><ul><li>Personal Papers (PP) – Crick, Stopes, Klein </li></ul><ul><li>Societies (SA) – Eugenics, ASH, ALR </li></ul><ul><li>Autograph Letters </li></ul><ul><li>Born Digital material </li></ul><ul><li>Sources Guides </li></ul>
    9. 16. Rare Books Collection <ul><li>From 1460s to 1850 </li></ul><ul><li>Approx. 70,000 items </li></ul><ul><li>‘ Great Names’ but also ordinary practitioners </li></ul><ul><li>Anatomy, Herbals, Alchemy, Food & Drink </li></ul><ul><li>Bibliographical importance of works </li></ul><ul><li>EEBO and ECCO </li></ul>
    10. 17. Paintings, Prints and Drawings <ul><li>Over 250,000 items </li></ul><ul><li>Documentary resource, rather than art collection </li></ul><ul><li>All art techniques covered </li></ul><ul><li>Photographs: John Thomson collection </li></ul><ul><li>Wellcome Images </li></ul>
    11. 18. Ephemera <ul><li>Over 30,000, mainly single sheet items </li></ul><ul><li>Mainly post-1850 </li></ul><ul><li>Pharmaceutical advertising </li></ul><ul><li>Product literature </li></ul><ul><li>Public information handouts </li></ul><ul><li>Campaign literature </li></ul>
    12. 19. Medical Collection <ul><li>Post-1850 Medical and Scientific Literature </li></ul><ul><li>Monographs, Textbooks, Pamphlets </li></ul><ul><li>Serials and Journals (print and electronic) </li></ul><ul><li>Foreign and colonial publications </li></ul><ul><li>Asylum Reports </li></ul><ul><li>Most complete set of Medical Officer of </li></ul><ul><li>Health reports in the country </li></ul>
    13. 20. Asian Collections <ul><li>46 different languages </li></ul><ul><li>Geographical Spread </li></ul><ul><li>Subject coverage </li></ul><ul><li>Format </li></ul>
    14. 21. Online Resources <ul><li>Subscription Databases </li></ul><ul><li>Wellcome Images </li></ul><ul><li>Wellcome Film </li></ul><ul><li>17thC Recipe Manuscripts </li></ul><ul><li>Arabic Manuscripts </li></ul>
    15. 22. Library’s resources <ul><li>Facilities conducive to study </li></ul><ul><li>Free Library Workshops </li></ul><ul><li>Contextualising nature of Wellcome Library </li></ul><ul><li>Europe’s most comprehensive collection on the </li></ul><ul><li>History of Medicine </li></ul>
    16. 23. Vandyke Carter papers (MSS.5809-5826)
    17. 25. Concluding thoughts <ul><li>Balance between ‘Great Men’ and ‘Lesser known’ </li></ul><ul><li>Patients and Practitioners </li></ul><ul><li>Items and Collections </li></ul><ul><li>Importance of interpretation and re-interpretation </li></ul>
    18. 26. Wellcome Library <ul><li>Main website - http://library.wellcome.ac.uk </li></ul><ul><li>Wellcome Images - http://images.wellcome.ac.uk </li></ul><ul><li>Wellcome Library Blog – http://wellcomelibrary.blogspot.com </li></ul><ul><li>Email us - [email_address] </li></ul>